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I almost scared her to death…

I think I came close to scaring a woman to death yesterday—and I don’t regret it a bit.

I was at work, and went out to get something from my car.  In the distance, I could hear a dog whining.  Being the animal lover that I am, I of course went to investigate.  The dog was in a car that was parked on the street.  He looked so pathetic, almost like a wilted flower.  I could tell he was barely hanging in there.  My heart went out to him immediately.

One window on the car was left slightly open.  I don’t think I could have stuck my little finger through the crack.  When I saw the dog, I saw a red that was so deep it was almost purple!  My blood pressure shot so high that I don’t think they could’ve measured it if I had been hooked up to a blood pressure monitor!  I was livid!  I could hear my heart thumping in my ears, and it sounded like a jackhammer going off.

I thought about calling the police, but I was afraid the dog would die before the police could get there, so I started looking for a rock or something to break the window with.  About that time, the owner of the car came strolling out of a building across the street, idly chatting on her phone.  Once I saw that she was coming to the car, I started yelling—as loudly as I could.  I’m sure she could see the steam coming out of my ears.  The look of horror that came over her face didn’t even register with me at the moment–all I could think of was that poor dog.  “YOU’RE NOT FIT TO OWN A DOG!  OPEN THIS DOOR NOW!  HOW DARE YOU LEAVE THIS PRECIOUS BABY IN THE CAR WHEN IT’S OVER A HUNDRED DEGREES AND THE HUMIDITY IS SO HIGH?  HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF I TIED YOU UP, AND LOCKED YOU IN THIS CAR, WITH NO AIR, AND NO CRACKS IN THE WINDOW?  YOU DESERVE TO BE TREATED LIKE THAT!”

She looked scared to death, and started trying to talk.  “I was just going to be in there a minute…”  I shut her up before she could say anything else.



I was so angry that it took me a long time to calm down.  I fumed most of the afternoon, and wondered if I had done the right thing by letting this lady leave with her dog, although legally I don’t think I had any choice but to let her leave with her dog.

Now that I’ve finally calmed down, I think it’s funny (not funny that she left the dog in the car–funny how I reacted).  I am known as a big teddy bear, and gentle as they come.  I rarely get upset, and yet I was acting like a big grizzly bear.

I would love to know what that lady thought when I tied into her like that.  I’m a 6’ tall man that weighs about 225 pounds.  I had on cowboy boots that made me look taller.  I’m sure my scruffy beard didn’t make me look very gentle either.  It’s a miracle that she didn’t have a heart attack, or call the police on me.  I wouldn’t have had much sympathy if she had had a heart attack.  She deserved it, but I would’ve been up the creek without a paddle if she had called the police on me.



My training regimen

 Here’s a portion of a conversation my three owners (two beagles and a golden retriever) had with me.  We were discussing how well I am responding to the training they’re trying to give me.

Bandit, the beagle:  Ummm, can I say…I think we love having you, and think you’re absolutely delightful.  Is that right guys?  I guess we also think you’re still young, and not perfectly trained.  Would it be OK if I said, “Keep learning, and you’ll become awesome!?”

 Me:  Thank you!  I’m so excited to have you as my owners.  You’re truly magnificent in my opinion.

Here’s what I think I’ve learned so far.  I pet you on command and have learned the perfect place(s) to scratch you.  We play whenever you want to play.  I play a mean game of tug-of-war.  I throw balls and give you treats on a regular basis. You get to sleep with me, and get to sleep on the sofa and chairs.

Scout, the beagle: Yes, you’re a very good boy and you do well in these departments.  Don’t break an arm patting yourself on the back–you won’t be able to pet us if you break your arm!  HA HA!  Giving us all your attention is just the right thing to do—it’s your job…but don’t forget how many hours you ignore us while you look at that big box on the wall!

Me:  You’re right, Scout.  I do sometimes forget to pay attention to you while watching the TV, unless you remind me that you need affection.  I will start working on that one immediately.

Let’s get back to the conversation regarding my training.  I think I’m pretty well trained to let you ride in the car with me on a regular basis.

Scout, the beagle:  I LOVE those car rides!  You’re getting better in this area, but you still need some training.  You don’t let us ride with you every time you go somewhere. Gracie and I KNOW we deserve to go riding every time you go riding.  You know we LOVE to ride in the car!

Me:  I will see what I can do about that.  What else do I need to work on?

Gracie, the golden retriever:  I know!  I know!  You haven’t learned that, like, EVERYTHING is made for us to chew on.  This is, like, a really simple task to learn.  You shouldn’t, like, complain when I chew up Grandma’s Bible and all her pictures.   We, like, know you give us lots of toys, but sometimes we’re, like, just not in the mood for toys, and something else taste better!

 Bandit, the beagle:  Can I say that you also need to learn that we are supposed to share EVERYTHING that you eat?  Would it be OK to say that it should be one bite for you, and one bite for us? Don’t you think we deserve to eat good food also?

 Me:  Well, I can see why you think I should let you eat everything that I eat, but your doctor says it’s bad for you.

Bandit, the beagle:  Doctor, Schmoctor!  What does he know?  Don’t you think he’s telling you that so we’ll be sick, and have to go see him more often?  You know how those doctor types are! Shouldn’t you really listen to us?  We know what’s best for us. 

 You know how your mom always told you to listen to your body?  Well, our moms told us to do the same thing, and our body tells us that your food would be good for us!

 Me:  OK.  I will think about what you said.   That sorta makes sense to me…i know how I love food, and understand why you love it too.  Please give me a little while to think about this one.

Gracie, the golden retriever:  Thank you for your love.  It, like, really means a lot to us.  You’re an all right person, and we’re, like, glad to have you in our life.  I think you, like, know how much we love you, and we know that you, like, love us too.  In case you don’t know how much we love you, here’s, like, a few licks for you, just to show you our love.

 Me:  Awww, that’s going to make me cry!  I love you guys so much.  You mean the world to me!

Is there anything else you need to talk to me about?  I’m going to get all emotional if I don’t get back to business.

 Bandit, the beagle:  Yes, this is really important!  I hate to fuss at you, but please stop telling us to stop barking.  Would you please not say, “You’re going to cause me to have a heart attack when you bark in the middle of the night?  It almost seems like you want us to let the booger bears come in.  What if they killed you, and we hadn’t barked to scare them off?  Where would you be then?  It really hurts when you get onto us for trying to protect you.

 Me:  I know you think you’re doing the right thing.  I really wouldn’t mind if you only barked when you knew something was out there.  I get upset when you bark, and bark, and bark and there’s nothing out there.   Can you maybe wait to bark until you know someone’s trying to get in the house?

 Bandit, the beagle:  Sigh…why would you want us to wait until they’re in the house to bark?  Isn’t it better if we scare them off before they get in the house?

Me:  OK, guys.  I think this is an area we both need to work on.  I’ll try to not get as upset, if you’ll try to bark just a little less.  Maybe a compromise will work for both of us.

(Gracie, the golden retriever):  Can I say something?!  Can I say something?!  You like really fussed at me for getting in the pool without you the other day, and like shaking all over that nice man?  What a bummer!  I was like just having a nice swim while you talked to the man.  I suddenly like realized I couldn’t be rude and like not say, “Hi”.  Ladies don’t do things like that!  We goldens are the friendliest dogs out there and I like have to keep my reputation up.  

I was like so wrong to get so excited that I forgot to shake off before I met the nice man. Just as I got close to him, I realized I looked like a mess with my hair all wet and matted down, so I shook so I’d look pretty for him.  Like, a girl can’t go meet someone looking like that!

The conversation went on for a long time. I didn’t realize how many flaws I had, but I will continue to work on the areas that I was told needed improvement.  Wish me luck!

What areas do you think your four-legged “owners” would say you needed to work on the most?

A few stolen moments

Image I had an early doctor’s appointment, and I went over to Venice Beach for a little while after I left the doctor’s office.  I rolled the windows down on the car as I approached the beach, and just enjoyed the smell of the salt water.  It’s such an unusual smell, but I really enjoy it. There’s a tanginess to the ocean smell that is quite intriguing to me. I’m not sure why I like the smell of the ocean so much.  I didn’t grow up around the ocean, so there are no memories that I know of associated with the smell.

It was so nice when I got to the beach.  There were not many people out, and I was able to enjoy a few minutes with nature.  It was one of those rare, magical moments when I felt one with nature.

Watching all the different types of water birds soar and wheel around in the air was good for my spirits.  Seeing them so free somehow freed me of some of the stress of life.

I stopped for a few moments, and just watched the sunlight play off the water.  For just a few moments, it was as if the ocean was full of diamonds that were twinkling in a vast show of beauty.

I took a few moments to just enjoy the beauty of nature.  I even slowed down enough to really look closely at some things:

The beautiful iridescence of a broken sea shell,

The tracks the birds left in the sand,

The strange patterns the barnacles and lichen make on the rocks,

The cuteness of the little crabs as they crawled around on the rocks,

The patterns that the seaweed had made in the sand,

The amazing variety of colors in a handful of sand…

I stood at the edge of the water, closed my eyes, and just enjoyed the beautiful music of nature.  The cry of the birds, the soft rhythm of the waves gently coming ashore and the slap of the waves against a big pile of rocks made a beautiful symphony.

That sound of the waves hitting the shore is almost hypnotic. I can become completely mesmerized by the sound. The waves seem to be the heartbeat of the earth.  I wondered if babes in the womb view the sound of their mother’s heart like I perceive the waves on a beach?

People began to show up, and the magic of the moment was broken.  However, I carry the beauty of the moment in my heart with me always.

I stopped as I was leaving, and looked at the ocean from a high bluff.  I was inspired anew by the beauty around me.











It’s a dog’s life…

These may not be the most artistic shots, but I think they show elements of my Gracie’s personality.  She’s a dear, dear friend.

“Yes, I do think I’m the Queen of Sheba!”

“All that playing just wore me out!”

“Sibling rivalry? What sibling rivalry?”

“Oh good! He FINALLY got out of the bed so I could get some beauty rest!”

“It’s good to be the queen!”


True love

Tippy, tippy paws, coming down the hall

I wrote this over two years ago when my precious, beautiful, wonderful golden retriever, Sammie, left me for the rainbow gate. This kinda flowed out of me. I wrote with no thought, it was just there. I NEVER write in a poetic form, but for some reason this came out somewhat poetic. I don’t know that it’s necessarily “good” writing, but it felt good to express some of my feelings.

Sammie started having seizures when she was about twelve.  Until she started these seizures, she had acted like a young puppy, always willing play.  Because of the medicine we had to give her for the seizures she lost her sure-footedness, and became very weak, and unable to jump or play.

Several times I have gone back and tried to edit this, but I still cannot.  I can barely read it because the pain is still fresh.  Fair warning, it is a tear jerker.

A word of explanation.  We have hardwood floors, and every time Sammie walked anywhere her claws made a sound that we called “tippy, tippy paws”.


No more tippy, tippy paws, as you wander down the hall, checking on us all. My ears are tuned, and I do wish to hear the sweet sound of tippy, tippy paws coming down the hall.

No more scratching at the door, to be let in, and then scratching again to be let out–to roam the house again. No more waking me in the night with the touch of a cold nose on  my hand, as you check to be certain all is well. Never again will I have to lift you onto the bed, so you can lay your head on my pillow.  No more setting you off the bed, because you had aged and you couldn’t quite jump down. No more tippy, tippy paws to rouse me from my sleep. That “tippy, tippy paws” sound told me you were walking your beat.  Tippy, tippy paws—in the night, and in my heart. My heart will always long for the sound of those tippy tippy paws.

No more wads of hair to fuss about.  No more wondering how the hair got there…and under there…and over there…heck, your hair is everywhere. I see the hair still there, and it makes me long to see you laying there…and under there…and over there…or anywhere…the sofa, the hallway, the kitchen floor, the doorway, the walkway or lounging in the sun. No more lying in the middle of the room, or tripping me as I turn around. I often said, “Excuse me”, as I tried to go around you. I’d give my soul, to have you lying there to trip me again when I walk around the bend.

No more raised eyebrows, as you listen while I talk. I said I wanted to video you, as you showed me that you heard. Now, I cannot record you, ‘cause the eyebrows are now still.  Those expressive eyebrows will never raise in question or response. Never again can I sit on the floor, to talk and to play with you—no more will you give me kisses to let me know you were hearing what I said.

No more gentle paws, scratching on my lap. Those paws that quietly said, “Popcorn would make you a good chap”. It no longer aggravates to think about sharing what is on my plate. It seems such a big mistake that I ate steak, but was cruel and made you nibble on your kibble. I laugh when I think of how you would bounce for just an ounce of my meat. You loved me, and you did not berate, when I was late to put your dinner on your plate. No more will a gentle lady, delicately take my offered treat.

No more head coming to lay upon my lap, no more interruptions as I do my work. No more tippy paws announcing you’re on your way to visit me at my desk—to ask me to have a seat on the floor and speak with you. No more tippy, tippy paws and a nudge of the nose you as you dropped the ball into my lap, picked it up, dropped it into my lap, again and again, until I looked into those eyes. Those eyes always said, “Playing ball would be much more fun than playing a piano song.”

No more balls dropping on my head while I float in the pool, no more looking up to see your eyes begging me to throw the ball yet again. No more diving in to retrieve a ball, only to have it thrown again.

I wish I had not said, “That’s enough ball, Sammie. Go lay down” quite as often as I did. I regret the sad looks you gave me each and every time I did. It would not have hurt me to throw that ball again.

No more tippy, tippy paws, to announce that a nose was soon to open a door. You opened the door so you could drop in–just to say you care. You always thought the only reason I sat on the pot was so that I could scratch your special spot.

No more will you come to me when I am sad. I cannot cry in your fur, when I feel so very bad. I thank you for each time that you came and sat by my side–for letting me hold you while I cried. I thank you for kissing my tears away every time you were by my side. You even kissed my tears away as I cried for your approaching death.  As I cry for you, I long to hear tippy, tippy paws coming down the hall, to let me know that you’re coming to my side.

No more unconditional love—but wait! I feel your love for me, as you wait for me to again be your playmate. I pray that you’re waiting there for me, as I pass through the gates.

So many “no mores”, yet there are so many memories and lessons learned that I cannot regret. I cannot regret the love I received from you, the love you so freely gave…so much love that I cannot forget. So many memories from all the years—every memory brings a smile or tears—or fears that I failed to acknowledge all that you gave, or failed to say that you were a dear.

Tears continue to flow, and I can’t help but show that it feels as if all my tomorrows will be full of woe. I will not always be sad. In time, I will be glad for the time that we had. Although I fear my heart may break, I cannot regret (or negate) the love you brought—the lessons you taught—or the joy you had in every ball you caught–I knew you were going far away from me when the call “ball” no longer made your ears perk, and your eyes glow.

I am angry, and it makes me very mad. Why couldn’t you have passed when you were happy, not so very sad? No more graceful leaps and bounds. The thought of how your looks said, “What the hell” every time you fell (as your legs began to fail) are so hurtful. Sorrow runs deep, but memories of you I keep for all the tomorrows that I may meet.

I thank you for kissing my tears away while I wept for your upcoming death. You showed your love for us, even as you went.

Tippy, tippy paws, how the thought claws at my heart. Know I love you, and I do miss, the sound of your tippy, tippy paws, walking down the hall.

My visitor

This beautiful little guy comes to visit us regularly. He’s quite friendly, and will listen while I talk to him.  He lets me get very close, as long as I am talking to him.  I feel as if he’s a friend.

When he comes to visit, he perches on the end of a piece of bamboo in one of my gardens.  I made the mistake of moving the bamboo, and my little visitor seemed to be confused.  He would fly around in circles, as if trying to find his bamboo.  I put the bamboo back in place, and in just a few minutes he was perched there again.  He seemed happy, and I was was happy.

He doesn’t live here, but I always enjoy his visits.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

OK, time for another rant.  I am so sick of people saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.  I respond to that with a resounding, “BS”!  I think this is something that people have made up to help them get through difficult time.  I KNOW “What doesn’t kill you makes stronger” is not true–no matter how many times Kelly Clarkson sings it.  Do people really believe that broken hearts, tragic deaths, destroyed homes make people stronger?  It just doesn’t compute to me.

As I look back through life at some of the horrible things I’ve gone through, I cannot point to ONE of them, and say it actually made me a better person, much less all of the problems making me a better person, as I am supposed to believe  Actually, most of the severe problems I have had have made me a weaker, worse person than I was before.

For starters, growing up in the United Pentecostal Church (one of the harshest, most dogmatic, legalistic, controlling churches known to man) was a huge trial and tribulation. It did not make me a stronger person, it made me a weaker person—I was afraid of everything, everyone and myself. I feared every thought and every action.  I lived in real fear that I was going to be struck dead because of unholy thoughts.  I still struggle with the fear that I was taught.  Growing up not going to movies, not watching TV, not being able to go to a football or basketball game, missing all the sock hops at school, NEVER wearing shorts or a short-sleeved shirt, not being able to listen to the radio, having to keep my hair short (in the 1970’s when long hair was the vogue) did not make me a stronger person.  Learning to say that a woman was going to hell if she had make-up on, if she had open-toed shoes on, or red shoes, pants or jewelry on did not make me a better person.  It made me a critical person that constantly struggles to overcome the bad habits I was taught.

I have had to work hard to overcome all the setbacks that the church put on me. How has living through those trials and tribulations of growing up in this church made me stronger, or a better person? Personally, I don’t think it did anything but make me a hard-judging weakling. I was taught how to judge everyone and everything, but not how to be strong enough to stand up for what myself.  Now, because of what I was taught, I have to guard against hating the ones who made me live that lifestyle. The hate that these trials brought to me does not make me a better person.

Did being beaten and abused at times make me a better person? Did walking around every day wondering if today was going to be the day that I got slapped, made to put a whole can of cayenne pepper in my mouth and hold there or being beat on until I would say, “Momma, I don’t love you, cause if I loved you I wouldn’t be bad” make me a stronger, better person? NO!  It made me a weaker person, who is scared of his shadow.  If you think that getting beat on makes me a stronger person, you need to examine your heart.

Losing my two best friends at the same time in a senseless accident when I was sixteen did not make me stronger–it made me afraid to get close to anyone, because I was afraid I would lose them, and go through that pain again. I still keep most people at a distance because I do not want to ever suffer that pain again.

I’ve had people say, “Well, you can’t understand someone else’s pain until you’ve experienced it.” Yes.  Because I suffered from debilitating migraines means I can understand what someone else says when they say the pain of a migraine is terrible, but how does that make me a better person? I can understand that delivering a baby is intensely painful too, but I don’t have to go through it to feel sympathy for a woman who is having labor pains.

I’ve never had cancer or a heart attack, but I can still empathize with, and help someone who is going through cancer or a heart attack. I don’t have to experience it to know that it’s bad, they’re hurting and they need someone to rely on.

I think the belief that our trials make us stronger is another man-made justification. It’s trying to make it sound good to go through trouble. It’s an effort to give meaning to problems.  I have come to believe that problems do not have meaning.  Often bad stuff happens, and there is no meaning to the bad things.

If people really believe that going through trials make them stronger, why aren’t they praying for more trials, instead of praying for God to deliver them from the trials they are in? If they believe the trials are God’s will, why are they praying to be delivered from these trials? That’s praying against God’s will. I can just see it, a woman at the altar saying, “God, I’m learning and growing from all this arthritis in my left knee. Why don’t you give me arthritis in my right knee, both elbows, my back, neck and feet so that I can really grow and glorify you? While you’re at it, can you throw in a little gout and some cancer too?  Oh, and don’t forget to give it to my kids, and take my parents from me, in the most horrible circumstances you can! I really want to become stronger in you, so send me all that you have!” Do you see someone praying that prayer? Of course not, you’d send them to the funny farm if you heard it. However, if we’re to believe all that we’re taught about our trials making us stronger, the strong in faith should be praying for these types of things.

According to the Bible, Job was tested, and he passed the test. Do you think he really thought he was better off because he had lost all of his children? I know he didn’t curse God, but I cannot imagine that he ever said, “I’m so glad that God took all my children from me. I wish that I had had more children to give Him”. I know the story says God gave him new children, and doubled Job’s prosperity.  However, having seven new male, and three new female children did NOT ease the pain of loosing his first seven children.  I am sure (as a parent) that Job mourned those lost children the rest of his life.  Don’t you think Job would’ve been happier if he had been allowed to keep his family? Did buring seven kids really make him a better person?

As an animal lover, I know that even having every camel (and other animal) replaced two-fold did not take the place of the special relationships he probably had with certain of his animals.  I lost my beautiful golden retriever, Sammie, two years ago.  I have another wonderful golden now, but she does not replace Sammie.  I will always have a hole in my heart where Sammie was.  Presumably, Job loved his animals as well.  He always had a hole in his heart where those animals (and kids) should have been.  Don’t you think Job would have gladly stayed poor and broke, if he could have kept his children and animals?  How did Job’s trials make him a better person?

I have had a “thorn in my flesh” that I have prayed about for at least 35 years. I have done all the things the church has taught me that I should. I have prayed, I have studied to show myself approved, I have fasted (some things don’t come out but by prayer and fasting, right?). I have prayed to be delivered, I have cast out demons, I have stood in faith truly believing God was going to deliver me–but this thorn in the flesh is still there. The Bible teaches to seek, and we shall find, to knock and it shall be opened to you. After almost 35 years of knocking,  I have decided that God is not home, or He’s not going to answer the door. I don’t think it’s unreasonable after so much time to come to that conclusion. Has this struggle made me a better person? I don’t think so.

Just because some have been able to cope with their trials in no way means that all people can or even should.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and why do we think that everyone has the strength to withstand “trials” because a few people have the strength.  All the suicides in the cemeteries prove that not everyone has the strength to withstand all that is thrown at them.

People often say, “Well, I don’t like dealing with people who have never had any pain in their life.”  If you get behind the facade that these “pain-free” people put out for the world to see, there’s pain in their lives. I constantly hear how trials make you become a more compassionate, understanding and useful person. That sounds nice, but I find that most people just become scarred from their trials, and they don’t become better. Becoming better sounds nice, but I don’t really see it in people’s lives.

My biggest struggle is “we must learn to get through it with peace”. I don’t get through my struggles with peace. They scar me, torment me and hurt. Is this a flaw in my character?

I have had questions about “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” most of my life, but I was too much of a hypocrite to voice them, or I was too scared of God, the church and my family and friends to voice them. I am just now learning how to be honest with myself, and with others. I think if most people are honest, they will admit they have had many of these same questions, and were too afraid to admit it also.

My faith has changed, grown and evolved through the years. I do NOT blindly accept what anyone tells me.  I don’t blindly accept what a deity “says”.   If it doesn’t make sense, I try to figure out why it doesn’t make sense. I believe I have a brain, and am expected to use it. It is one of the talents that has been given to me, and the Bible tells me that God will require those talents of me.

Everything that was put into the universe is orderly.  Once you see the pattern–from the smallest atom to the biggest galaxy–there is order, logic and sense. The orbits of the planets make sense. If something absolutely does not make sense, it means I do not have enough information to make sense out of it, and I go searching for the information that I need to make sense of it.  “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” doesn’t make sense when you look at it logically.  No matter how I look at it, I cannot find the logic in “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.  It just doesn’t make sense.

My inability to blindly accept “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” had led me to question God on many levels. The Bible teaches that if I seek I shall find.  If I knock, He will answer. When I seek and I don’t find, when I knock He doesn’t answer, I think I have the right to ask Him why He didn’t answer. If I promise you I will make you a lemon meringue pie if you bring me a pie pan, and you bring me the pan, and I don’t make you the pie, you feel that it is ok to ask me why I didn’t make the pie. I think God should be held to the same standard. If He promises if I do “X”, He will do “Y”, and He doesn’t do it, I have the right to ask Him why He didn’t do it. That’s only fair, and follows the teachings of the Bible.  The Bible says, “Let your yeas be yeas, and your nays be nays”.  I don’t think it’s right for Him to hold us to one standard, and Himself to another.  If our yeas need to be yeas, then His yeas need to be yeas.  I think that’s just and fair. Religious people often say maybe there’s something else that He wants me to do.  That’s fine, but why doesn’t He man up and tell me if He wanted me to do something else, instead of leaving me in limbo?  Or, is it just possible that God is a man’s creation to try to help give meaning to life, just as “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a creation that tried to put meaning when there is no meaning?